Saturday, February 7, 2015

Wow!!! I had totally forgotten about this poetry "blog" I created a few years ago. Wow!. I guess I should revive it. That is, if I can remember how to run it LOL

Monday, September 24, 2012

Birthday The only source of power is retreat. Humor just stops being humorous while irony takes over, like Lenin and the Long March. You gaze at the calendar and begin to chop down all the time you think fits in a small box with a red number on it. For my next love I want it wrapped up in dollar bills. I want to ride in a limo for free. Like a neon sign. I want to be a comfort to all but a home to none. The only source of power is to walk slow and say little, hold hands on occasion but cross your fingers so you can tell corny lies but don’t tell too many because spit balls can hurt and if gum is involved you might lose some hair; you can use ice to freeze the gum. Ice is good. It’s a comfort, when everything is still. Rita Stein
Ok, I'll post a poem and then YOU, dear reader, send me a poem or two. And so it goes....
I have taken such a lon gbreak that I forgot all about 81.54 but I haven't forgotten about poetry. It's time to put a call out for submissions from anyone Hit me!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Three Poems by Fernando Quijano III


at the only photograph
I have left, Easter—your head
wrapped neatly in a paisley
scarf, alabaster skin set
off by the scarlet of your top,
all 5’ nothing of you dwarfing
over the 3 of us, [how small
we were, and how as big
as the world you seemed to us
back then] holding JoJo’s fragile
little hand—JoJo, in his blue denim
overalls with a strap dangling
off his shoulder and his Buster
Brown do, free hand gripping
one link of the chain link—your other
arm held hard against KiKi’s heart—
KiKi, with her baby doll dress & her baby doll
smile & her white knee highs— and
there I am, the Little Man all grown
up at 8 or 9 or whatever, hair,
as always, waving wildly in the wind,
stylin’ in my plaid polyester belted lounge
lizard jacket, with matching bell
bottom bottom, foot propped
up, arms spread like I owned
the world like I knew I did;
all of us there, at the base
of Lady Liberty, Manhattan &
its now extinct towers barely
bursting through the fog, celebrating,
not God, not Jesus, not life, nor liberty,
nor the pursuit of happiness, but
love: the love that we could squeeze
out of this fucked up family that we
shared, that we accepted for better
of for worse, or for worse than that
because how can we forget those times?

I stare
at this, the only
photograph I have
left, & I imagine
the others, the ones
I don’t have, the ones
lost, the ones destroyed, even
the ones that never existed,
like the picture I never
took of you during one
of your dazed for days days,
lounging & lost in your
euphoria, hiding from problems
I didn’t, still don’t quite,
understand, like the picture
I never took of you bruised,
battered & beaten by
whatever flavor of the month
macho-sick monster you were
sampling, like the picture I never
took the day you cashed your
first paycheck, leaving the drugs,
the drink, the drunks & the drama
packed away neatly with your past,
or like the picture I never took
of you bloated, bleeding & bleached
on that hospital bed, your past
unpacking itself to prevent
your progress,
your present,
your presence…
your life briefed
down to vital signs & bad
mistakes you had already paid for
with interest.

Orange Eye

I don’t have to write
this poem
it writes itself
how could it not?
At ten
the monarchs come to feed
on the purple orange eyes
the kitchen window
as I wash dishes
monarchs & bugs that look
like little hummingbirds
fan tails and all
buzzing bud to bud
to suck on the sweet nectar

At three
the brothers come
butterflies wearing tiger skins
with iridescent blue
spots for wings
dangling upside down
with their black
winged cousins
to catch
the undersides of the buds
that previous bug
gourmands have missed
The tigers patiently probe
each bud
with their probosci
while the jet
butterflies flutter
frenetically before moving
on, looking for the easy meal
I could wash this dish
for days
I don’t have to write
this poem
The Universe wrote it
for me
long ago.


A shallow little thing—
the river behind abuelita’s
house, barely deep
enough to wade in,
to slam our clothes
clean against rocks

Except when the hurricanes
came, we would have to
gather the chicken & geese
and stow them in the basement
praying that the great brown surge
carrying cows & cars with
equal ease would not
devour our fowl anyway

How far does it go?
I asked mi hermano—
Don’t know, but I hear
that upstream
the catfish get so big
you can wrestle them
out of the water—
and so we set out,
on a day free
of hurricanes, to find that place
where the river began

How far had we walked
before we realized our folly
as the current grew stronger,
a Lucha Libre wrestler shoving
us around, knocking us down
refusing us a glance under
his golden mask?
And the catfish?
Just as we believed, we saw
one navigating the current
more easily than we could,
its whiskers as long as it was

I pounced, thinking, perhaps
I can have at least this
one pleasure; rocks
in my hands,
nothing more.

Fernando Quijano III is the Vice President of the Maryland Writer’s Association & author of From the Bottom Up, an op-ed column featured on His work has been featured in Welter & Smile Hon, You’re in Baltimore. An excerpt from his unpublished novel, Forever, Lilith was included in the Apprentice House anthology Freshly Squeezed. He has been featured at the Baltimore Book Festival, Stoop Storytelling, & The Signal on WYPR. In his spare time, Fernando volunteers to lead workshops for Writing Outside the Fence, a program for the ex-offender community, as well as at the Brock Bridge Correctional Facility. Fernando was recently awarded a B grant for his writing by the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Three Poems by Bruce Jacobs


All he has to do, she says,
is pretend that he’s a Vietnam vet
and that she’s Japanese.

She’s marked his lines with bullets.
His character asks hers,
“Where are you from?”
She pauses, says, “Chicago.”
He says, “No. Before that.”
She says, “Ohio.” He says,
“No. Your parents. The ocean.”
She says, “San Francisco,”
then hands him the rice,
his cue to flash back
to the nine-year-old girl
who blew off his right arm
with a grenade in a bowl.

“I’ve never had dinner with a psychologist
who writes plays,” he says.
“Wait a minute,” she says in Japanese,
“that’s not in the script.”
“Sure it is,” he says. “After the rice.
I exhibit Post-Uncle Ben Stress Disorder.
You suggest that I write commercials
until I recall my own brand name.
Then the waiter hands me your bill
for eighty-five dollars.”

She tells him to stay in character,
close his eyes, come closer,
imagine giving her a piggyback ride
through a muddy creek. Her tiny toes
skirting the cold. His hands
on her body, feeling for grenades.
He follows her orders across her skin.
“Good, good,” she murmurs.
“Now call out my name.”
“Uncle Ben, Uncle Ben,” he says.
“No,” she says. “Before that.”

His mouth opens, an empty bowl
held by small brown fingers.

–Bruce A. Jacobs



The playwright explains
how she would like him:
Oxford shirt, Wrangler denims,
cowboy boots with silver heels.

She unfurls the smooth shirt
like a curtain, praises its weave
against her skin, tells him
if she were a client,
she’d admire his presentation.

With the mirror to her back,
she is not Japanese.
She calls the woman in glass
“the way I look,”
like a tulip facing itself in water,
a rumor of liquid pastel.

The black advertising copywriter
nods, having been addressed
as “Yo, boss” by store clerks,
and quizzed about malt liquor
by people for whom
he provides a black friend.

He fastens six pearl buttons,
runs a zipper along her spine,
just for the moment,
since he knows
in late morning, she will lean
across cream sheets, a woman

who is not Japanese,
wearing the white shirt
of a black advertising copywriter
off her tawny shoulders,

and he will pull percale about his hips
exactly like a kimono,
ask her if she likes the way he looks
enough to walk with him through mirrors.

– Bruce A. Jacobs



Makes no sense. This late at night,
a little girl in sneakers wielding
a stick? Three feet of hollow prod, alley bamboo,
one wooden tap and each kid runs.
Crazy is contagious.

She flaunts the wand like dime-store jewelry,
treasure of the moment, trigger-ready
in case of need for sorcery as they pass by my stoop,
knowing I could be anybody, hands in my pockets like that.
Her brown face bolts at me, pops me with a “Hi!”
They billow laughter up the street:
“You talked to him – talked to that man – you so bold.”

It’s crazy. Taking potions literally,
casting my bones on sooted marble,
believing bulrushes can push through concrete
and shelter babies left in alleys.
I want to tell her that her world
is reed and stone. She ought to
learn construction. One cannot trust
the way things work in moonlight.

It’s crazy. Making games with strangers,
playing where she’s not supposed to,
a black girl shaking giggle sticks into the night.

– Bruce A. Jacobs


Bruce A. Jacobs is a poet, author, musician, and former advertising copywriter. His books of poems are SPEAKING THROUGH MY SKIN (Michigan State University Press) and CATHODE RAY BLUES (Tropos Press). His latest nonfiction book is RACE MANNERS FOR THE 21st CENTURY (Arcade Publishing). His work has appeared in dozens of poetry journals and anthologies, and he has appeared on NPR, C-SPAN, and other networks. He plays drums, poems, and saxophone, and he lives in Baltimore. His blog on race and politics is, his poetry blog is, and his Facebook page is

Monday, December 20, 2010

Three Poems by Rita Stein

Dr. Jane

Shallow breaths. Present. Static.

Technicolor mammograms.

I am
not the one
to run in
save the day.

It’s not safe to have company at the breakfast table.

Not safe to quibble on the platform.

No one ever wows the clown.

A surreal animation knocks on the door.

The beauty of the apple
is its refracted sense of imagery.

You could go blue or ghost or funhouse.

I don’t know that there is
any way around this.
A pot of coffee
and all the cream it takes to shut you up.

No one ever wows the clown.

Not safe to try.

What Was (Valerie’s Apt.)

What was my favorite city-
San Jose-first
time in California,
all that walking and
warm nights,
a little cocaine
and mild

After flooding
a friend’s bathroom
Dan White
committed suicide
We traveled to Santa Cruz
to ooh and aah

It’s like
gas drilling
You leave
every substance
you love
every particle
It all turns up again
as reconstituted water



The trees are
lined up for sale
It’s dreadfully
It makes the city
smell brilliant,
unbelievably so

3rd Street Anecdote

The floor opens up in the middle
Suddenly air, the enormity of it

Over and over, a clarinet refrain,
like love, sweet and foul

This December day, wet snow

Reading under a blanket,
no heat

Violins now, and a coronet
Feels less dangerous in here

Erik Satie is being announced

I find myself enjoying
what I don’t like
A reluctant orgasm of a sort
Who’s performing here, I wonder

Snow resting on the ground
Cat on the balcony across
The quiet is so fragile

Packing to leave
Threw out stinky soup
Examined a soft spot on the wood floor

We take a break from this,
say goodbye

Rita Stein is fending off a cat while posting poems. She created 811.54 to post poems from friend and foe. Rita is a middle school librarian in Brooklyn.